I love talking about early literacy with the families in our practice. When parents nurture early language development, kids benefit in so many ways. For example, they have increased school readiness, improved social skills and are more confident.
Much more is expected from today’s children when they enter school. That’s why it is so important to lay an early foundation for literacy. Growing up with a mom that taught first grade in a rural community, I saw the challenges that can come when kids aren’t ready for school. I want to encourage parents, and give them resources that can help.
One great program I like to talk to parents about is called United Way of Central Indiana's Early Readers Club®. Families can register to receive 12 high-quality children’s books each year until the child’s sixth birthday. The program serves children in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties. The cost is very reasonable and scholarships are available.
Studies show that improving access to books can make a huge difference. In fact, there is a correlation between how many books are available in a home and how many words a young toddler may know.
A lifelong joy
When you read to your baby, you are helping to create a lifelong love of reading. As you sit down with a book, begin to relate what is on the page to your child’s real-life experiences. Point to pictures and repeat the names of objects out loud. Ask questions like, “Where’s the bunny?” or “What do you think will happen next?” Before you know it, your little one will be able to answer simple questions and fill in your sentences.
As your baby grows into a toddler, he or she may want to read the same story over and over. Toddlers thrive on routine and may really enjoy that predictability. And that’s okay. Eventually your kiddo will show interest in new books too.
A couple of other tips for parents to help their child succeed as a reader:
It’s quality time that counts
As a mom, I know how hard it can be sometimes to fit reading together into your family’s busy schedule. Plus it can be challenging with their short attention spans. My daughter, at 10 months, is often too squirmy to sit still for reading time. It’s okay to put the book down and come back to it. It’s not the quantity of time you spend reading, but the quality that really matters.
Discuss developmental milestones
Parents often have questions about when their baby should reach developmental milestones. Be sure to talk with your child’s doctor about any concerns you may have. While chances are your baby’s development is right on schedule, by working with your doctor you can identify and address any delays early.
Danville Pediatrics recently welcomed pediatrician Dr. Stacy Williams. Call (317) 745-7337 to schedule. Families also are invited to come out and meet Dr. Williams on Saturday, September 29, 2012, at the Avon Community Heritage Festival. Stop by the Hendricks Regional Health booth between noon and 4 p.m. to ask questions and say hello.